The National Retail Federation announced plans to block a proposed settlement of a federal antitrust lawsuit over retail swipe fees.
The proposed $7 billion settlement includes a payment for alleged past damages in the amount of $6.05 billion to be divided among class members, as well as an eight-month reduction in the level of interchange fees paid by merchants. It also allows merchants to add extra fees to credit card transactions, and negotiate collectively over interchange fees and other conditions of credit card usage.
But the NRF thinks the settlement doesn’t go far enough—and prevents retailers from taking further action.
“It does nothing to curb the anti-competitive behavior of Visa and MasterCard, and instead ensures that swipe fees paid by retailers and their customers will continue to rise while barring any future legal challenges,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement
The organization also called $7.25 billion “pennies on the dollar,” noting if the case went to trial, the credit card companies could be stuck with a far greater judgment. It also argues that nothing is done to block further increases in swipe fees, and to reform the “anti-competitive, cartel-like system” that allows Visa, MasterCard, and banks to determine card fees.
NRF said it is exploring what form the legal action might take, as it is not a party to the lawsuit. The judge has not yet fully outlined how outside groups will be allowed to intervene, or if the case qualifies as a class action.
The suit, launched in 2012 by plaintiff Jetro Holding, accused credit card companies Visa and MasterCard, and banks of violating antitrust rules by conspiring to fix the fees they charge to merchants.